It’s not cool to lose a fish

Ah… is this cool, or what? Here I sit at my keyboard on a drop-dead gorgeous morning.


As I look out the windows of our cabin, the sky gleams like the deep blue of a rain-washed glacier while nary a breeze disturbs the white puffs of mature dandelions awaiting their turn to destroy what’s left of the lawn.

I realize that I should be a more responsible mower of growing things because moose keep getting lost in our backyard. I should probably take a flamethrower to the encroaching pushki plants that are popping up everywhere and killing off the wild flowers while consuming errant neighborhood pets. But, I have a more dramatic problem- it’s fishing season and that’s serious stuff.

This year has been more a crisis because a shortage of my secret bait. Can you believe it? A decided dearth of properly packaged, sized and frozen bait fish! This situation is especially ugly for those of us who distain the messiness of cured salmon eggs. Plus, we purists abhor the thought of traumatizing our karma by making any physical movements such as repeatedly casting lures into the water that might ripple the serenity of a lagoon and resemble anything like work.

Think about it. A hook baited with a small mackerel fillet attached to a bobber along with the hunter sitting quietly on an inverted bait bucket. The only thing that comes closer to that kind of scene of total leisure is being pronounced dead. I fish with some guys who are so laid back that I routinely stick a mirror under their noses to see if they are still breathing.

Don’t get me wrong. Bobber dudes can become animated when the need arises. If a fish hits, we hit back. That’s only if someone notices that our float has gone under and yells that we might want to pick up our pole.

Of course, if somehow one of us actually hooks into one of the wannabee spawners, all hell breaks loose. It’s not that we panic and cut the line so we don’t have to clean anything. No. We do have our pride and will do our best to land it because we can always sneak down to a local processor to have it packaged without dulling our Cabela special edition blades.

What really happens is that we turn on the dude with the fish on. The verbal feeding frenzy really goes nuts if he misses the strike or (dare I say it?) loses it.

Ancient lepers had more respect than being “the guy who just blew one”. Your buds will not only harass you that rest of the day, but for weeks, as well. I still have some regulars commenting on my ineptness from the ’95 and ’96 seasons.

Oh yeah, let’s not forget basic etiquette. One must never continue to soil the water with your gear if a pal next to you is fighting a fish bigger than his bait.

I accidentally made that fatal error when Turk hooked up with a semi-respectable king. At first, the beast remained close to shore and Turk self-assuredly announced that he would land it quickly. I just stood there in shock because I hadn’t seen the man tie into anything but a deranged smolt for days.

Suddenly the fish flipped and ran my way. Yep, bobber-n-mackerel streaked across the water and entangled Turk’s first real fish of the season in my gear. His line immediately snapped, mine held on for a moment and then we both shared in the disappointment of losing it.

I estimated it at only about ten pounds. Turk, of course, figured in was much bigger and could have possibly fed his family for the winter. I thought the dispute would stay just between us but forgot he had purchased one of those intergalactic phones that monitor everything from your finances to personal internal regularity.

By the time I got home, my sister in Washington was aware of my transgression along with half the population of our hamlet.

Nothing is sacred if one ruins another’s fishing experience.

I’m just glad that branding humans is against the law, although I hear Turk is lobbying for its reinstatement.

Rumor has it that he wants F. M. permanently stamped on my forehead. He claims that it means “Fishing Miscreant.” But I saw the look in his eyes when my tackle became ensnarled in his and he can’t fool me. I think the last letter “M” stands for “Moron”.

I’m tellin’ ya, there’s no mercy out there.
Nick can be reached at


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